The people behind Behavioral Intelligence: Building a world-class engagement platform

Sam DeFlitch

December 21, 2021

At Mainstay, we’re pretty proud of the behaviorally intelligent solutions we offer to colleges and businesses — but our technology wouldn’t be nearly as effective without a bit of human genius behind it. We may be a little biased, but we’re confident that our team is the best at what they do: Using chatbots to have meaningful conversations that guide people toward a more fulfilling life. 

In this series, we’re shining the spotlight on our teams to give you a peek into the daily work, cool factor (yup, we kick it with Gen Z every day), and expertise that Mainstay’s people bring to the table.

As director of partner success support services at Mainstay, Bea Bolaños works at the crucial intersection of product development and customer experience — and she’s passionate about the collaboration at the heart of her job. “I love how we solve problems, both as a team and in partnership with our customers,” Bea says. “We’re constantly thinking outside the box, and this creative problem solving is really rewarding. My team gets to see things from a unique perspective, where we have to understand how our technology can further develop to meet our partners’ evolving engagement goals — and that’s really exciting.” 

At Mainstay, we’re all about developing innovative engagement solutions. Our Engagement Platform makes it easy for schools and businesses to have meaningful conversations at scale with their students and employees using familiar channels like text messaging. The platform connects colleges and employers with their people via behaviorally intelligent chatbots that accurately answer questions around the clock and send automated nudges, empathetic check-ins, and timely surveys — and we’re constantly working to ensure it empowers our partners to achieve their engagement goals. That’s where Bea and her colleagues on the product development team, including Nick Jones, enter the picture. 

“I work to understand the pain points users are feeling, and translate that information into technology that solves those pain points,” Nick, a product manager, says. He’s got a real passion for working with partners to find solutions to their problems, and he’s thrilled to be part of a team where he can see the immediate impact of his work. 

“I’ve worked for larger companies where it was difficult to see the way customers experienced the things I was building,” says Nick. “It was harder to talk to end users and get feedback quickly, and I didn’t get to see the impact of my work. But at Mainstay, it’s clear that the products we release have an immediate impact on partners’ daily workflows — and that impact is pretty significant. It’s been great to have rapid loops of delivering software, hearing feedback, and learning how our products can move the needle on engagement.”

Supercharging engagement with behaviorally intelligent chatbots

There’s nothing more powerful than a relevant, well-timed question. A good question has the potential to open up a conversation that sparks new ways of thinking and meaningful action. Thankfully, students and employees have lots of great questions. Their search for information is both a key indicator of engagement, and also an opportunity to build trust with your people. When your students or employees can rely on you to provide accurate and empathetic answers that are relevant to their current situation, they’re more likely to trust you. You can build on that trust by forming meaningful relationships with your people and encouraging them to take meaningful actions toward success.

Finding the best ways to encourage students and employees to take these meaningful steps can feel challenging at first – but at Mainstay, it’s our superpower. We’ve cracked the code to boosting engagement, and we call it Behavioral Intelligence. It’s a method for helping people identify and achieve their goals through conversations. To ensure those conversations have a truly positive impact, we combine three key components into the way our chatbots interact with people: Accurate information (IQ), empathy (EQ), and contextual relevance (CQ). 

What you say to your students and employees is key — after all, it’s important that your people have access to the information they need to succeed (IQ). Yet, how you deliver this information makes all the difference when it comes to building meaningful relationships. The best response, whether it’s an answer to a question, a friendly nudge, or a timely survey, must also be empathetic (EQ) and understand the context (CQ) in which the student or employee receives it. However, EQ and CQ are uniquely human traits, so it takes a spark of human inspiration to infuse messages with them. That’s where Bea, Nick, and Mainstay’s entire product team really shine. They ensure that Mainstay’s partners are using the best technology available to create meaningful connections with their students or employees. That means developing a world-class engagement platform powered by behaviorally intelligent chatbots

Nick, who has worked in tech for a decade, is especially aware of the potential of behaviorally intelligent chatbots. “Using a chatbot to engage students and employees makes a ton of sense — especially since texting is such a familiar form of communication,” he says. As he works alongside Bea and the product support team, Nick is excited to find ways to make Mainstay’s solutions even better, and to collaborate with partners as they explore innovative ways to engage their students or employees. 

Infusing conversations with IQ, EQ, and CQ through collaboration

Interactions with a chatbot can easily fall flat if any of the elements of Behavioral Intelligence are missing. And Bea is aware that it takes accuracy, empathy, and context to make conversations truly engaging. To achieve this, she and her team work to ensure that every partners’ knowledge base is accurate and up-to-date, so their bots always have the best response for any situation. Think of a chatbot’s knowledge base as its brain. It’s a database of all the information and answers that may matter to someone interacting with their school or business, and with every conversation, the bot learns how to provide the best response in a meaningful way

“We do a ton of bot training. That involves reviewing knowledge bases and conversations between users and chatbots,” Bea says, noting that her team also learns ways to improve the user experience from these conversations. “We recently implemented a product enhancement that lets people tell our bots what their preferred name is, so the bot can call them that name instead of the first name that’s been captured in the platform by default. This idea actually came from a partner’s suggestion, and we were able to introduce it across all of our chatbots. With this product update, we’re creating a more empathetic, equitable experience for lots of people — especially trans students and employees. When our bots use their preferred name it makes them feel seen, which helps ensure they’ll have a positive experience.”

Nick echoes this commitment to listening to Mainstay’s partners — and to the people they serve. “As students and employees ask more questions, there will be gaps in the knowledge base that partners haven’t yet considered,” Nick says. “For example, students might have questions about an upcoming event, or about a new building on campus. We try to make it as easy as possible for our partners to identify gaps in conversations and update their knowledge base with relevant information.” By developing products that empower our partners to build their knowledge bases, Nick ensures that colleges and businesses can communicate with their people in meaningful ways, and always provide the best response. 

Identifying ways for partners to update and use their knowledge base is just one component of Bea and Nick’s work. They also collaborate with Mainstay’s partner success team and engineering team to develop innovative solutions. “We’ve got a big problem-solving and customer-support mindset at Mainstay,” Bea says. “That means working alongside lots of teams to develop the best solutions to our partners’ pain points.” She notes that this is a highly collaborative process, involving the product, partner success, and engineering teams, feedback from partners, and incoming information from users. This process ensures that her team develops solutions that meet our partners’ needs — and the needs of the people they serve.

Start engaging your students or employees with Behavioral Intelligence

Mainstay’s product team members are, above all, great listeners. They strive to understand our partners’ needs and develop solutions that empower them to achieve their engagement goals. At Mainstay, our Engagement Platform makes it easy for schools and businesses to achieve their engagement goals by helping them guide their people toward long-term success with accurate, empathetic, and contextually-relevant conversations. 

Start your conversation today to learn how your school or business can use automated, personalized text messages to boost engagement and support your people throughout their entire journey. 

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Get a guided tour of Mainstay’s Engagement Platform

Mainstay’s Engagement Platform uses Behavioral Intelligence to help businesses build meaningful relationships, optimize insights, and drive action.

Sign up for your personalized demo to find out how Mainstay makes it easy to spark conversations with your employees and guide them toward positive results.

Channels

Instant support — anytime, anywhere

Mainstay’s behaviorally intelligent chatbots make it easy to engage with employees on the channels they prefer to use:

SMS text messaging

Live chat

Web chat

Social media

Let's talk

Get a guided tour of Mainstay’s Engagement Platform

Mainstay’s Engagement Platform uses Behavioral Intelligence to help schools and businesses build meaningful relationships, optimize insights, and drive action.

Sign up for your personalized demo to find out how Mainstay makes it easy to spark conversations with your students or employees and guide them toward positive results.

Channels

Instant support — anytime, anywhere

Mainstay’s behaviorally intelligent chatbots make it easy to engage with students and employees on the channels they prefer to use:

SMS text messaging

Live chat

Web chat

Social media

Let's talk